Maintaining Resilient Tile Floors

Advances in resilient tile flooring, commonly called vinyl flooring, have made it a stylish, as well as affordable option. Here's what you need to know about maintaining and repairing resilient tile.


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Modern resilient tile is so easy to maintain that the biggest problem you're likely to experience is the tendency to overdo it. Too much maintenance causes premature wear and dulling.

A regular schedule of vacuuming (not with an upright model or beater-bar attachment) and damp-mopping keeps a resilient floor in tip-top shape. If you need to address an unusually soiled spot with a cleaning solution, use a product recommended by the manufacturer. Steer clear of generic products made for all floors.

The chemicals in vinyl tile are prone to interact with the chemicals in other synthetic products, especially the rubber backings of area rugs. Many rubber backings stain vinyl. Don't use a rubber-backed rug unless the manufacturer or retailer gives the OK.

Be wary of felt or fiber scratch guards that self-stick to the bottom of furniture legs. They work initially but gradually accumulate grit and scratch the floor. Check them periodically and replace when they fill up with dirt.

You can remove some minor scuffing with a tile cleaner and #0000 steel wool. Rub gently.

Maintaining No-Wax Floors

No-wax floors are manufactured with a vinyl or polyurethane coating applied to their surface. Of the two the urethane is tougher, but for both no wax means no wax. If you start waxing one of these materials, you'll dull the finish, make it dangerously slick, increase its tendency to collect dust and dirt, or all three. To maintain the shine of a no-wax floor, just keep it clean.

Once a week vacuum the floor and damp-mop it with a mild detergent solution -- even if the floor doesn't look dirty, it is, and those microscopic dust particles will wear away the sheen. Make sure you rinse the floor thoroughly. Occasional buffing will also bring back the shine. If you have to "refinish" a no-wax floor, use a product made by the manufacturer especially for this purpose.

Cleaning & Repairing Floors

Time
About 45 minutes to vacuum and damp-mop a 15x20-foot kitchen; about 30 minutes to remove and replace a damaged tile

Tools
Cleaning: vacuum, sponge mop
Repairing: hair dryer, putty knife, notched trowel or plastic scraper, rolling pin

Materials
Cleaning: manufacturer's cleaning solution
Repairing: adhesive, replacement tile

Step 1

To remove a damaged resilient tile, set a hair dryer on high heat and concentrate the heat for a minute or so on one edge of the tile. Insert the blade of your putty knife and work it back and forth, pushing forward to break the adhesive bond.

Step 2

Don't expect the tile to come up in one piece. It will tear and leave small pieces stuck in the adhesive. Warm and scrape each piece until you have removed all of them.

Step 3

Using a notched trowel spread adhesive into the recess left by the damaged tile. If a regular trowel proves unwieldy, notch the end of a plastic scraper and use it to comb the mastic. Spread the adhesive to the edges.

Step 4

Before you set the replacement tile make sure its orientation conforms to pattern. The arrow won't help because you can't see the other tiles' arrows; instead eyeball the pattern. Set the tile at an angle with one edge tight against the other and lower the tile into place.

Step 5

Adhere the new tile tightly to the adhesive by rolling with a rolling pin. Warm the surface slightly before you roll it. The heat will soften the adhesive and help bond the tile.

Removing Stains from Vinyl Tile

Stain: Asphalt, shoe polish
Remove with: Citrus-base cleaner or mineral spirits

Stain: Candle wax
Remove with: Scrape carefully with plastic spatula

Stain: Crayon
Remove with: Mineral spirits or manufacturer's cleaner

Stain: Grape juice, wine, mustard
Remove with: Full-strength bleach or manufacturer's cleaner

Stain: Heel marks
Remove with: Nonabrasive household cleaner; if stain remains use rubbing alcohol.

Stain: Lipstick
Remove with: Rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits

Stain: Nail polish
Remove with: Nail polish remover

Stain: Paint or varnish
Remove with: Wipe with water or mineral spirits while still wet. If dry, scrape carefully with a thin plastic spatula. If stain still shows dab with rubbing alcohol.

Stain: Pen ink
Remove with: Citrus-based cleaner, rubbing alcohol, or mineral spirits

Stain: Permanent marker
Remove with: Mineral spirits, nail polish remover, or rubbing alcohol

Stain: Rust
Remove with: Oxalic acid and water (1 part acid to 10 parts water); extremely caustic; follow all directions.

After removing the stain wipe the area with a damp cloth to remove residue.

Watch & Learn: Resilient Tile 101

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